Friday, December 9, 2016
Holiday decorating can be one of the homeowner’s true dilemmas. How much is too much? How much is too little? Should I install outdoor lights, and if I do, how can I avoid making my house look tacky? What if I like tacky? What about holiday yard ornaments? How much should I spend on this endeavor? Ah, the joys of holiday decorating and home ownership. Not to worry; there are some proven practices that can help you avoid being labeled the neighborhood Grinch by having an unadorned home, while also avoiding seasonal kitsch.
First off, the matter of lights. While strings of energy-saving LED exterior lights can greatly reduce the annual energy cost of illuminating your home, most homes are not illuminated most attractively by stringing miles of lights around every door, window and eave! Take a good look at your home from the front, or wherever your holiday guests will be coming in from the cold, and think about what features could be best accented by lights. Some garden centers may even offer free consultations with professional designers on such matters of lawn and yardscape design.
If you do decide to hang lights, or even more lights, there are many gadgets that make the task easier and less invasive to your structure. You might check with a friend or
Then there is the matter of lawn ornamentation. If your landscaping already includes garden sculptures and other ornaments, your best option might be a bit of additional adornment. A festive bow, or even lights, can add a seasonal welcome and whimsy. As for those holiday lawn ornaments and whimsical holiday yard shows: Follow your own tastes, budget safety guidelines and any applicable neighborhood regulations. Lights certainly go with the season, and there are all kinds of ways to make your home bring a smile and sense of joy to your guests and passersby.
Whether or not you decide to go for lighting or ornaments, do consider dressing up your front door or entryway with a seasonal wreath or other accents. It’s the first thing your guests will notice as they come into your home – and a really great wreath can be the first word of “Welcome” to your holiday guests.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
The weeks leading up to New Year’s Day may seem a time to stay busy in other places besides your yard. But don’t miss the chance to take time outdoors and finish getting your yard ready for winter. We like to think of winter yard prep as “Three M’s” – moisture, mulch and maintenance.
The first M is moisture, especially important for evergreens, as well as new plantings that may have been installed in fall. Consider giving your evergreen trees and shrubs a good watering before the ground freezes, especially if rainfall has recently been less than one inch per week. If you’re in an area where winter freezing is less severe, keep an extra close eye on evergreens through the winter. Some species could potentially benefit from additional winter watering, especially younger trees and plants.
Second: make sure you mulch. A layer of mulch after soaking fall rains, or a final fall watering, can help the ground retain moisture. Perhaps more important, mulch insulates the ground from temperature swings. Thawing and freezing causes the ground to heave, which can be hard on plant roots and overall plant health. A two- to six-inch layer of shredded leaves or similar mulch material can help guard your ground, protecting your plant from winter heaving. When it comes to winter mulching, not all plants are created equal; some are tender, some are hardy. Follow garden guides or seek advice from your local garden center or Master Gardener program to make sure your mulch layer is the proper thickness.
Finally, pay attention to our catchall “M,” maintenance. Guard young trees and woody perennials from wildlife damage with tree guards or screens. Take a good look at deciduous trees, now that leaves have fallen, to see where you’ll need extra pruning in the spring. Consider applying plant wrap to young evergreen trunks, especially those with southern exposure, to prevent sun scald – a common winter malady.
Winter yard prep even goes beyond the plants, to your utilities. Don’t forget to drain and stow hoses, clean and store garden tools, oil wooden handles with linseed oil, and install winter faucet covers on outdoor faucets. That way you’ll be able to keep your equipment in top shape, ready to bring out next spring.
Monday, November 28, 2016
Hauling firewood with a wheelbarrow can be a time-consuming task. The new CycloneSuperhauler makes it simpler to move firewood from the truck or woods to the woodpile. And, with a hauling capacity of up to 800 pounds, the Superhauler brings power and stability to other jobs year-round.
The Cyclone Superhauler has four wheels, an advantage over trying to balance a load of firewood moved on one or two wheels. The powerful and efficient Briggs & Stratton InStart engine, combined with a U.S.-made no-shift hydrostatic transmission, keeps the loads moving at a steady and stable pace.
Four wheels also provide hauling stability up and down slopes. The Terra-Traction locking differential drive, quickly engaged with a tap of the foot pedal, gives fuller traction on steep slopes, mud and sand. This makes it easier to bring firewood from the woods to your woodpile – and can reduce the chance for the load spilling on the way.
Greater load stability also makes it easier to move more wood, faster. Firewood can be stacked in the SuperHauler standard bulk bin or the one-of-a-kind solid-steel FlexiDeck. The FlexiDeck adds versatility for hauling larger items like fence, posts, logs, branches and hay or straw bales.
The SuperHauler has two front wheel options, turf or all-terrain. Turf tires are gentle on lawns and provide great traction on smooth surfaces – perfect for hauling firewood from the truck, down the driveway and across the yard. All-terrain tires are well-suited for bringing firewood home across mud and sand, the kinds of terrain that can easily bog down other carts and wheelbarrows.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks for good things, with roots of the day in long-celebrated festivals at the end of harvest. For many, Thanksgiving Day is also full of feasting, family, friends and football; the day also marks the start of a very busy holiday season. This year, consider some simple ways you can make your home welcoming for guests while focusing on some show of gratitude for life’s good things.
Before guests will sit down at your table, they’ll probably sit down somewhere else. A room with a fireplace or wood-burning stove is a great place to congregate. If warmer temperatures have kept you from burning much wood, give yourself a few practice fires or build the fire early to make sure temperatures are just right. Keep the fire a little lower if there are going to be lots of people around, and make sure you have adequate firewood nearby. A stack of wood waiting on the hearth, with a load of wood nearby on the Cyclone Super Hauler, will help keep the fire burning as long as company lingers. There is something about simple conversation around a fire that needs little else to make things memorable.
When it comes to Thanksgiving décor, aim for simple things that celebrate the season and tradition of giving thanks for good things. Set up a craft table with simple, not-messy Thanksgiving-themed activities for visiting children; Pinterest and other websites abound with clever ideas. If weather permits, get the kids outside to find different hues of fallen leaves. They can be spread around the table centerpiece, or just pasted on some paper and posted where everyone will see.
Consider a simple table centerpiece, making your own or complementing a purchased centerpiece with your own land’s bounty: gourds or squash grown in your garden, dried seed pods from native plants, evergreens from your yard. Use the centerpiece as a way of starting conversation about how grateful you are for your garden (or to humorously illustrate how your thumb is still not yet green) and invite guests to talk of their own harvests. And don’t feel like you have to go overboard; less is often more on this day when thanks is given for simple things and life’s blessings.
Less is often more when it comes to the Thanksgiving feast, too. If it won’t create hostility within your guests, consider a potluck style meal where you provide the protein and everyone else pitches in. For those less-inclined toward cooking, suggest fruit or vegetable trays or other healthy sides. And for those who may be feeling a budget crunch this holiday, invite them to come early to help you prepare desserts or appetizers. Whatever else you do: Simply make space, create a place, where your guests will remember the day is about being grateful, especially for life’s basic things.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Fall yard cleanup is a way of bringing beauty and order to the yard or landscape. This Veterans Day, you might consider yard cleanup as a nod of appreciation to those who have served a country with a truly beautiful landscape.
Veterans Day comes at the when many trees have lost their leaves – but homeowners may not yet have finished cleaning them up. It’s also the time of year when fall rainstorms – and snow storms, in some states – bring gusty winds that scatter leaves everywhere. With Veterans Day falling on Friday this year, some people will take the long weekend to finish some fall cleanup chores. While you’re outside, don’t forget to ponder veterans you have known and what they have meant to you, your family, and your country. And, if you happen upon a veteran while running errands or being about town this Veterans Day, consider making a special effort to simply tell them, “Thank you,” for their service.
Good neighbors often lend a hand to help each other with fall cleanup, and this can especially be helpful for elderly neighbors as winter approaches. Simple expressions of kindness can help build community, and the ability of citizens to build healthy communities is a benefit of living under freedom. Over Veterans Day, consider helping a neighbor with his or her yard chores – particularly if your neighbor’s knees and back are not so young, and especially if he or she just happens to also be a veteran.
If your neighbor is agreeable, you might even use your Cyclone Rake leaf vacuum to help clean up some of the heavier piles. You would not be the first to lend your time and equipment to helping to making your neighbor’s yard cleanup a bit easier.
Many of our families also have older vets who served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. If you have kids, consider teaching them what it means to serve by finishing up some outdoor (or indoor) fall cleanup tasks for those older veterans in your family. That can later be a teachable moment to the next generation about the value of service and remembering to be grateful for veterans who have served.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
The beauty of leaves changing color is a big reason to be outside during the fall. Here are some ways to enjoy the changing colors even more this season.
If your home or yardscape is home to trees with changing leaves, try getting outside and at a different time than usual. An early morning walk around the yard might help you spot sunlight peeking through the changing leaves. A similar effect can be seen close to dusk, as the sun sets and sunlight throws beautiful shadows across the yard. A flashlight, or light from the backyard fire pit, could also help you catch different glimpses of the leaves.
Try using a camera to capture the changing colors. Shooting pictures from the same angle, at the same time of day, during the days and weeks of fall color. Reviewing the pictures later in the fall or early winter can help you remember the beauty of the fall foliage. Social media users might post their own backyard portraits for friends to see the beauty of the changing landscape.
Even if your backyard is missing mature deciduous trees, you can still enjoy the changing fall colors. Seek out nearby parks, nature reserves and hiking trails that provide a way for you to walk through the woods. Set aside a couple hours to drive out into the countryside, perhaps heading to a fruit farm or scenic overlook, to take in the fall beauty. You’ll likely be glad you took some extra time to become awestruck by the beauty of the season.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Decorating the yard for Halloween is more popular than ever, with some fall yard setups designed to extend beyond Halloween and toward Thanksgiving. Whether you’re getting your yard ready for this season or the next, the Cyclone Rake and Cyclone SuperHauler are some of the most helpful tools around.
Clearing the yard for fall decorations usually involves removing leaves. Raking leaves can be a backbreaking task; even harder can be moving and disposing leaves after they are raked. The Cyclone Rake lawn vacuum takes care of that problem. The Cyclone Rake is easily attached to your riding lawnmower and vacuums up shredded leaves, making them easy to unload. The compact load of leaves can be easily dumped for the compost pile or spread for mulch around flower beds and in gardens.
Decorating the yard can mean hauling heavy decorations from the garage, storage shed or a vehicle. The Cyclone SuperHauler has a large hauling capacity and the ability to maneuver loads over even difficult terrain. The SuperHauler offers stability for heavy loads, reducing the risk of dropping decorations or having them spill out of a wheelbarrow.
The SuperHauler is also perfect for moving a load of pumpkins from the car. With an 800-pound capacity, the SuperHauler would be the tool of choice to maneuver all your pumpkins into place. The SuperHauler also has a convenient Flexi-Deck option, which adjusts to haul large objects – just in case you find a great big pumpkin to be your yard’s centerpiece this fall.